Tuesday, September 13, 2022

The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and Culture Killers

This is a Guest Editorial by long-time community leader Rayanne Buchianico:


The Great Resignation, Quiet Quitting, and Culture Killers

By Rayanne Buchianico

I started my career in a different world. I was grateful to have a job during a recession. I quickly learned the rules of the road and performed my work to the best of my ability, and most times, I went above and beyond what was asked of me. I had some great employers in my early career. I also had some awful bosses. I took lessons from all of them to build my leadership skills into the person I am. I purposely built my company so I could be the boss I always wanted to have. I thought, “If I make this a great place to work, everything else will fall into place.”


That worked for a long time, until it didn’t.

My company offers competitive salaries and an exceptional benefit package, flexible hours, extensive PTO, a stocked kitchen for lunches and snacks, company outings, and countless opportunities for personal and professional growth. I wondered who could possibly hate working here?

Two people decided that what I offered them was not good enough. They bonded. The gossiping and whispering began. I ignored it. The gossiping and whispering got louder and started to include other people in the office. I ignored it some more. The work was getting done. The clients were happy. I didn’t much care what they thought about me. I continued to work to make it a great place to be and pretended not to notice. After all, no one came to me with a concern or a complaint. 

To be fair, I had a lot going on during this time. It was busy season, my workload was off the charts, I purchased a building, and I had some personal issues that needed attention. I was not as present in the office as I typically am.

Then, it got worse. Some of my co-workers stopped communicating with me altogether. If I asked a question, they answered. If I asked them to do something, they did it. But, the underlying tone and lack of camaraderie was clear. You could feel the tension in the office. The forced laughter when they were in groups. The quick hush when I walked nearby. I should have put an end to it right then. You know how hindsight goes.

Instead, I sent one of the instigators to work from home full time. That kept them out of the office, but not off text messages. I began coaching another team member into a leadership position. I was sure I could turn this around. The more I did to improve the atmosphere, the worse it seemed to get. I called in a culture coach. I hired a leadership coach. I read books. I listened to podcasts. I organized company events. I thought I was doing everything right.

I met an MSP owner at a recent event. She went through the exact same scenario and took all the same steps I was taking. We had a good long talk about this, and I want to share what I learned. 


Make sure you are not the problem

This was the main takeaway for me. I was so sure the problem was not me, that I never stopped to double-check. Employees need a clear path to success. 

  • Set goals for each team member
  • Provide timelines and budgets
  • Be sure you can measure their progress – and actually measure it!
  • Review their work
  • Written procedures are great, but training sessions are better
  • In-office games
    • Sports pools
    • Contests
    • Friendly competitions with prizes

Your employees need to know what it means to be successful at your company. Just coming to work and completing tickets and going home does not help to bolster morale or pride in a job well done. Be specific in your expectations and review them regularly with your team. What are they doing well? Where can they improve? Set goals for improvement and follow-up in 30 days.

Talk to your teammates one-on-one. No one likes to be called out in a team huddle. You need a one-on-one relationship with each member of your team.


Reward your team

Not all rewards need to be monetary. Sure, your co-workers will not turn down extra money, but that may not be their primary motivator. Ask them what they like to do. What are their interests? Can you do something meaningful for them? Gift cards and money are nice but so impersonal. Try stepping up your game.

  • Buy a local adventure for them, even something touristy in your own town 
  • Get a gift certificate to the best restaurant in town
  • Movie passes
  • Family adventures
  • Performance bonuses

This is something you can bring up in a team huddle. You’ll hear each person shout out something they like to do. Make notes and choose rewards accordingly.


Trust your gut

If you feel dissention in the ranks, take charge immediately. One or two people can bring down half the company. They will create a toxic culture then blame you for it. If you let it continue, don’t be surprised when they all walk out because you let one of them go. 

No one ever said, “I should have waited longer to fire that person.”

If you can feel the tension, imagine what the other employees are feeling. No one person, or even five persons, are worth losing a valuable employee who wants to be part of your organization. 


Quiet Quitting

I did not know this was a thing until I started reading articles about it. After The Great Resignation hit my company, many of the players offered to stay on until their replacements were hired and properly trained by them. They cited concern for the clients. 

Against my better judgment, I allowed some to stay. Their work was not being done. Training was sloppy. Documentation mysteriously disappeared. They had two-hour giggle-fests in the office while I continued to pay salaries for them and their replacements. I put an end to that and on the day they left, they took two more co-workers with them.

When someone resigns, send them home. You are not saving yourself any work by allowing them to stay. 

Once the office was free of the employees, the atmosphere immediately lightened. We collectively breathed a huge sigh of relief. I ordered lunch for the staff, and we talked openly about the events leading up to that day. Then, we all banded together, picked up the broken pieces and got to work. 

By the end of that first week, I looked back and thought, “This is what a team looks like. THIS is the culture I have been building.”

-- -- --  

Rayanne Buchianico is the owner of ABC Solutions an MSP accounting expert. She is also a PSA consultant and podcaster, M&A expert, author, instructor and speaker, and a board member of the National Society of IT Service Providers. She’s won awards for her work and community involvement from every organization that matters in our industry.

:-)


Monday, September 12, 2022

The ASCII Group Creates Pivotal Industry Study on MSP Services and Vendor Selection

From my friends at ASCII sent over this missive:


The ASCII Group Creates Pivotal Industry Study on MSP Services and Vendor Selection

Bethesda, Maryland – September 12, 2022 – The ASCII Group, a large membership-based community of independent North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers, is pleased to announce the creation of ‘Rate My Stack’, a comprehensive industry study focused on MSP services and vendor selection.

For nearly 40 years The ASCII Group has provided programs, services, and resources for MSPs to better run their IT businesses. With the vast expansion of vendors in the IT channel, Managed Service Providers (MSPs) are continually evaluating which vendor partners serve the needs of their customers the best while helping the MSP build a competitive services offering. To help with this, The ASCII Group saw a need to embark on this one-of-a-kind study. With community in mind, the aggregate data will be used to offer insight while providing peers the ability to share and rate each other’s ‘stacks’ anonymously.

Led by a committee of 12 ASCII members, the ‘Rate My Stack’ initiative was built on providing the individual Managed Service Provider deeper intelligence on what their fellow peers are doing in the market. In aggregate, the data will provide insight into the following areas:

What components do MSPs typically provide as part of their service offering?

What are the most popular components of the service stack by category?

Which vendors are on the rise or decline and the reasoning behind it?

What are the most popular products/services MSPs are using to run their internal operations?

What services are typically not offered compared to their peers?

“The ‘Rate My Stack’ endeavor is the first step in providing intel in helping our community build a better service offering,” said Jerry Koutavas, President, The ASCII Group. “Learning from peers is the best form of business education and knowledge sharing is the backbone of our group.”

To learn more about becoming a member of The ASCII Group, please visit www.ascii.com


About The ASCII Group, Inc:

The ASCII Group is the premier community of North American MSPs, MSSPs and Solution Providers. The Group has members located throughout the U.S. and Canada, and membership encompasses everyone from credentialed MSPs serving the SMB community to multi-location solution providers with a national and international reach. Founded in 1984, ASCII provides services to members including leveraged purchasing programs, education and training, marketing assistance, extensive peer interaction and more. ASCII works with a vibrant ecosystem of leading and major technology vendors that complement the ASCII community and support the mission of helping MSPs to grow their businesses. For more information, please visit www.ascii.com

:-)



-30-


Sunday, September 04, 2022

Check Out the NSITSP Candidates - Voting Starts Sept. 15th

We did a blog post over at NSITSP.org, but I thought I also post here.

NSITSP Members Campaign season is underway. It’s brief, so make sure you read up on the candidates as you prepare to VOTE, starting September 15th.


Check out the Elections Page Here and meet the candidates.

You can view all candidates or just the ones for a specific board or committee. This is the e-version of our voter pamphlet. Each candidate has their picture, plus a candidate statement, and links to their social media, so you can see how they present themselves to clients and the public at large.

Candidates: Don’t forget to share your candidate profiles with your clients. Let them know that you are investing in our industry and helping us to transform the industry into a profession. And don’t forget to monitor the Elections Forum and respond to posts.

Members: Join the Elections Forum, post your questions, and engage the candidates.

Note: All paid members are eligible to vote. So don’t worry about letters of reference. If you’ve paid, you can vote.


If you have questions, send us a note.

Thank you for all your support!

:-)

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Core SOPs for IT Service Providers - Five-Week Class Starts Sept. 13th

Core Standard Operating Procedures s for IT Service Providers  - Our first class ever at IT Service Provider University - and still one of the most popular courses we have each year.

Fresh class with totally revised slide deck starts September 13th. 

Register now.

You’re guaranteed to learn something that will make or save you the price of admission!

Taught By: Karl W. Palachuk, Author and community builder

- Five Tuesdays - September 13th - October 11th 

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific


Register Now - Only $299*


This course will cover the most important procedures you need to have in place to run an efficient and highly profitable Managed Services Business.

Whether you're a new Computer Consultant or an experienced Managed Service Provider, you need to create successful processes that will propel your company forward. Nothing is more critical to making profit than having the right processes and procedures in place!

When I take on new coaching clients, they have many of the same issues over and over again. And almost all of them boil down to SOPs - Standard Operating Procedures. Or the lack thereof.

Everyone knows you need SOPs. In fact you probably know which ones you need. But where do you start?


You will learn:

  • A practical introduction to SOPs
  • The relationship matrix of SOPs
  • Clients
  • Employees
  • Vendors
  • Internal Organization
  • The Ten Most Important SOPs for your IT Consulting Business
  • SOPs management, organization, and updates
  • Implementation strategies internally
  • Implementation strategies for clients
  • Service Department SOPs
  • Building
  • Training
  • Deployment
  • Upkeep
  • Avoiding the biggest pitfalls with SOP development and deployment
  • Building an Action Plan that works

and MORE!


ITSP University Certification:

Meets Certification Requirements for

Management

Service Manager

Technician


This class will be recorded. Each unit is generally posted within 24 hours of the live class. These recorded units will become the On-Demand class and you’ll have lifetime access to it.


Class Content

  • Unit 1 Introduction and Organization of SOPs
  • Unit 2 Managing Time and Money
  • Unit 3 Service Delivery and the Service Board
  • Unit 4 Practical Operating Considerations
  • Unit 5 Putting It All Together


Register Now - Only $299*


Note: * Members of the Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community attend at no additional charge. See details in the Community

:-)


Tuesday, August 02, 2022

All-New 5-Week Lead Generation Course Starts August 9th

From IT Service Provider University



Create a Great Lead Generation Program

You’re guaranteed to learn something that will make or save you the price of admission!


Taught By: James Kernan, Author and sales coach

- Five Tuesdays - August 9th - September 6th

- All classes start a 9:00 AM Pacific

Register Now - Only $299*


Learn the industry’s best practices on the overall sales process from Prospecting, Qualifying, Needs Analysis and Assessments, Connecting your value proposition to the customers issues. Tips to get through the Sales Process faster and Closing the Deal!




Description

The MSP Lead Generation and Appointment setting course will include five live training sessions delivered in 60-minute classes. Designed for technology business owners, sales managers, and sales professionals, this training program covers industry best practices for selling contractual monthly recurring revenue and finding new accounts.

All five sessions will be recorded LIVE and delivered with a PDF workbook and related template exercises. 


You will learn . . .

  • How to create your sales playbook
  • Appointment setting 101
  • How to run the first and second prospect meeting
  • How to make customers for life – secrets to valuable QBR’s
  • How to create and present fantastic proposals that close


Unit 1 Creating Your Sales Playbook

Unit 2 Appointment Setting 101

Unit 3 The Sales Process and How to Run Your Prospect Meetings

Unit 4 How to Keep Customers for Life – secrets of QBR’s

Unit 5 Creating and Presenting Amazing Proposals


About James Kernan

For the past 12 years, James has served as a Principal Consultant for Kernan Consulting and provides Coaching, Advising and Mentoring programs to entrepreneurs and leaders. Kernan Consulting offers One on One Coaching, CEO Peer Groups, M&A Consulting and online training programs.

:-)


Monday, August 01, 2022

What Makes a Perfect Client?

An Ode to CLFP


Over my long IT consulting career, I have had many great clients. I’ve had clients who let my daughter hang out in the conference room when she was little. I’ve had clients who sent technicians home with boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables. I’ve had clients that fed my employees lunch if they happened to be visiting on a Friday. I’ve celebrated weddings and funerals for clients over the years.

We are, after all, a small business doing business with real people.

I’ve always kept a calendar of the first month that I billed a client for services, so we could celebrate major anniversaries. And this month, August, I remember my favorite client of all time: The California League of Food Processors or CLFP. I first started working for them in August of 1999. I was brought in by another IT consultant who wanted to focus on supporting their line of business application – IMIS. But he had found himself dragged “off task” to supporting the hardware that ran the IMIS program, and then other technology around the office. He knew this was not his long suit, and he didn’t want to do it.

So he brought me in and eventually convinced the powers that be to sign a contract with me. Shortly thereafter, Janet joined CLFP and began working her way up in the hierarchy. I think somewhere around 2000, Janet was the longest-standing employee of CLFP. And that meant that I, by a few months, had been there longer than any employees. Last month, Janet retired from CLFP (although she’s not nearly retirement age). 

Somewhere along the line, Laura went to work for CLFP. She eventually left when she fell in love with my brother (who worked for me at the time) and he dragged her off to Florida. But as recently as last year, CLFP still lures her back to work on special projects for a week or two.

I do very little work for CLFP these days, having sold my managed service business. But I still manage several domains and all of their DNS. For one thing or another, I’ve sent them an invoice every year since 1999. But that’s not why they’re my favorite client of all time.

CLFP is my favorite client because they fit my model perfectly. 

  • They are technology dependent, and they know it. That means they stand out from other organizations because of their commitment to technology. They see technology as an investment and not an expense.
  • They met with us on a regular basis. When we asked for a meeting, they invited us in. They scheduled regular technology roadmap meetings. That led to a greater understanding by me of their needs, calendar, and business plans. It also led to a greater understanding by them of my philosophy and how we embrace a holistic approach to supporting their hardware, software, and services.
  • They did what we asked. This took two tracks. They bought hardware and software on a schedule designed to maximize their return on investment. And they signed the contracts we put in front of them.
  • They relied on us completely. Every year they hold a huge, international event. They engaged us in the planning and implementation of the technology side of this endeavor. Eventually, we had boxes of equipment that were set aside simply to support this annual event. They never worried that we wouldn't be there, or that we'd do something wrong. They simply checked a box and knew that my company would take care of this.
  • They invested in training. Some they bought from us, some from others. But overall, they trained their people to get better and better all the time.
  • They were friendly. They treated all of my employees with respect, even if they weren't sure about them. They believed in the long term relationship, and that investment played out in great relationships.
  • They pay their bills on time. Over 20+ years, there were a few miscommunications, but very few.


Overall, I would say they hired us with the intent of building a twenty-year relationship and then they committed to making that work. And we did the same.

In my books and presentations, I often talk about my favorite clients. Sometimes that due to personal reasons. Sometimes it's because of one business reason or another. But in all cases, it's because my favorite clients do lots of things that make the entire engagement pleasant, sustainable, and low stress. Of course they're also profitable. But you can make money serving anyone. You'll live longer when you serve great people who commit to their part of the engagement and make the job enjoyable in the long run.

My hat is off to Janet and the whole gang over the years at CLFP. I might be the only one celebrating this anniversary, but it's been a great twenty-three years.

:-)


Thursday, July 28, 2022

Help NSITSP Choose a Logo!

The National Society of IT Service Providers is searching for a new logo. We collected nominations and the Marketing Committee has whittled the field down to three options.

Voting is on right now! 

So, if you're a paid member, head over to www.nsitsp.org and vote. The direct link is https://nsitsp.org/logo-contest/vote/



 All paid members may vote now. There are two steps to the process.

First: Should we keep the existing logo?

Second: If not, which of the proposed logos should we adopt?

Cast your ballot today! Voting ends August 15th.

Vote Here


. . .

On another note . . . The Board has suspended the requirement for two letters of reference for Professional members. The Governance Committee is working on a newly revised membership program for 2023. The Board will take further action pending recommendations from the Governance Committee.

What this means: Effective immediately, all paid members may vote in NSITSP elections and run for office.

So, if you’re a paid Professional member – please vote!

And if you’re not, please join today – and vote!

Thank you all for your support.

:-)

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Join the Big Coaches "Hands-On" Workshop at ChannelCon

 ChannelCon is back . . . LIVE!

I got together with some of my favorite coaches and we're inviting YOU to join us for a great session at ChannelCon 2022 next Tuesday.


Meet the Coaches

I will be joined by
  • Amy Babinchak
    from Third Tier 
  • Chip Reaves
    from Bigger Brains 
  • Dave Seibert
    from SMB Techfest 
  • James Kernan
    from Kernan Consulting
  • Manuel Palachuk
    from Manuel Palachuk International


We're going to pack a lot into this session. Table Topics include
1) Modernizing Your Service Offering
2) Building the Team of the Future
3) Business Challenges Beyond Fifteen+ Employees
4) Lead Generation
5) Service Delivery Process

Here are your action steps.

FIRST: Make sure you're registered for ChannelCon. Even if you can't be there in person, you should register so you get links, downloads, etc.

ChannelCon is in Chicago, August 2-4

Click here: https://i.snoball.it/p/I9xl/t to register right now. 

Use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free. Just to be safe.

SECOND: Browse to this item on your agenda - https://mychannelcon.comptia.org/meetings/rDz3kgqxCZokLiBaF#/
(after you're registered and logged in)

Click on the button to add this to your personal agenda.

THIRD - We'll see you in Chicago!

Our event is listed in the agenda as

Small Biz Thoughts - Work ON Your Business: A Hands-on Workshop (Solutions Providers Only)

10:30 AM - 11:30 PM Central Time 
Missouri Room - Level 2
on Tuesday, August 2

Official Session Description

Don’t do it alone! Solve your biggest business issues with help from peer groups, mastermind programs, and coaching. Join us for an interactive, hands-on session by five of the best-known coaches in IT: Amy Babinchak, Chip Reaves, Dave Seibert, James Kernan, and Manuel Palachuk.  Bring your problems! 

With luck, we'll all see YOU in Chicago next week.

:-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Do Unto Clients as You Would have Vendors Do Unto You

I'm sure you know the golden rule:

Do unto other as you would have then do unto you.

Here's how that applies to IT consulting:

Do Unto Clients as You Would have Vendors Do Unto You

I read a lot. And I try to keep up on the general advice that goes around in our industry. I've noticed two interesting topics recently that should be discussed together, but tend to be discussed without regard to one another.

1. Many people are very angry that Kaseya has purchased one of the "tool" companies they work with and is forcing everyone into three-year contracts. The general response is anger and indignation. "Those evil, greedy bastards are trying to keep me as a partner by forcing me into a three-year contract."

Forsooth, shame on them!

and the other common discussion . . .

2. More and more, MSPs are encouraged to sign three-year, auto-renewing contracts with their clients. The benefit of this is obvious. Recurring revenue is better than break/fix because it's treated as if guaranteed.* And, obviously, one year is better than thirty days. And three years is better than one year.

Ultimately, both moves are plays to increase the value of a company for buyers and investors.

Let's lay our cards on the table here. Seems like the general wisdom is . . .

1. Vendors are evil and greedy if they force partners to sign three-year contracts that auto-renew.

and

2. Managed Service Providers are wise to get clients to sign three-year contracts that auto-renew. 

There are handy cliches that could be applied here. You can't have it both ways. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Instead, let's look at what's really motivating all of this. One way or another, it comes down to money and innovation.

Money

Many vendors, of which Kaseya is one, find themselves in a market where they need to provide predictably high profit for their investors. One way to do that is to tie the hands of their so-called partners in order to show greater long-term guaranteed* revenue. Growth is a separate story. For now, they check the box that says guaranteed* revenue.

Is that necessarily evil? No, of course not. Many of us have signed 1- and 3- and 5-year contracts for consulting or jobs. Pretty much everyone signs a 30-year deal for a house and a 5-year deal to buy a car (or a 3-year deal for a lease).

But this is a service business. While there are many ways to get out of a contract, and anyone can sue anyone for anything, pressuring so-called partners into a three-year contract feels unfriendly. It makes people say things like "so-called partner" instead of partner. 

Historically, vendors have not been successful at tying the hands of their partners. They had to prove the quality of their products and customer service year after year to grow a family of dedicated partners. Thus, the value of their company was based on the loyalty of their partners/users/resellers. In a very real sense, the partners were devotees - not prisoners.

A three-year contract feels very much like being held prisoner. It's not inherently evil, it's just not the way we've done business until recently. As a minimum, it's not a very friendly way to do business.

Innovation

In technology, more than half of everything we do will have changed in three years. It's about two processor life-spans. And pretty much everything we do will change in five years. So a three-year contract hurts an IT service provider's business if it keeps them from using newer, better technology.

And, as the last ten years have demonstrated, it probably means that the vendors will be less responsive on the customer service front, less innovative on the technology front, and FAR less interested in the partners or end-users except as a measure of "units" that translate into revenue.

Now, about Those Clients ...

If it feels un-friendly and un-partner-like to be pressured into a three-year contract, how does this feel to your clients and prospects? 

Yes, it might make some good financial sense if you can guarantee* your recurring revenue to a potential investor. But why would your clients have any less anger and frustration than you do when it comes to three-year contracts?

Are you evil for proposing this? Of course not. 

But are you unwise? Possibly. 

In my managed service businesses, I tried several things (including one-year contracts) and settled on contracts that auto-renew forever, with a 30-day notice required to stop the contract. That amounts to 30-day contracts. It put the pressure on my company to provide excellent service. To my knowledge, we never lost a client because it was easy to leave. More commonly, clients literally never left. They stayed for decades.

We also settled on three-year contracts for HAAS - hardware as a service. This made sense because hardware was involved. And clients did not consider it unfriendly because they were often considering a three- or five-year lease as an option.

Today, everyone seems obsessed with mergers and acquisitions and market value. That's fine. But your clients deserve a level of commitment and service without regard to the length of a contract. One way that you show your commitment to service is by not requiring long contracts. 

At a minimum - Don't be a hypocrite. If you think forcing your clients into three-year contracts is the right thing for your business, please don't claim that it's a horrible thing for your vendors to do to you.

Just my two cents.

Comments welcome.


* Nothing's guaranteed. We're not going down that rabbit hole right now.

:-)





Friday, July 15, 2022

Heads Up, PayPal Users!

Per the PayPal "Changes" Page . . . .

https://www.paypal.com/us/webapps/mpp/ua/upcoming-policies-full


Effective July 28, 2022:

- U.S. business accounts will not be able to receive personal transactions from U.S. PayPal accounts.

- U.S. PayPal accounts will not be able to send personal transactions to U.S. business accounts.

- The rate for the “Send/Receive Money for Goods and Services” payment type will be 2.99% (with no fixed fee). This pricing change will result in fee increases for some transactions. You can preview the Merchant Fees page that will be effective on July 28, 2022, following such changes.


What this means for you business:

If you pay US (Small Biz Thoughts Technology Community, ITSP University, etc.), be aware: U.S. PayPal accounts will not be able to send personal transactions to U.S. business accounts. I'm sure this has to do with regulations around keeping business and personal straight.

But, to be honest, it's a really great idea to keep business and personal expenses separate as much as possible, even for a small business. 

The rate for the “Send/Receive Money for Goods and Services” payment type will be 2.99% (with no fixed fee). This pricing change will result in fee increases for some transactions. You can preview the Merchant Fees page that will be effective on July 28, 2022, following these changes.

It might help to go to PayPal now (ASAP) and review all recurring purchases. Make sure you know what might "break" at the end of the month. You can then make alternate arrangements. If you wish to continue paying with PayPal, you'll need to update your account. If you only have a personal account, you may need to set up a business account, and vice versa.

Obviously, there will be more details. Just be aware that the change is coming. And follow that link to learn more as details are released.

:-)


Friday, July 08, 2022

NSITSP Election Kick-Off Meeting July 13th - Join Us!

 The National Society of IT Service Providers is holding elections for ALL positions: Every committee position and every board of directors position.


Please join us for a live Zoom meeting 

July 13th

9:00 AM

Register Now for the Zoom meeting.


Join us for an educational meeting and Q&A. We’ll cover the election guidelines, candidate requirements, and the timeline for filing, running and voting.

Right now, our Board and Committees are filled with people who have been appointed, with the understanding that this arrangement is temporary. In September, every single position on our Board of Directors and standing committees will be elected by the membership.

This blog post will give you some information, but we’re also going to have a general meeting to go through the entire election process and guidelines. 

Everyone is welcome! 

Election Timeline

Here’s the basic timeline for our election “season.”

July 2022: Announce elections. Educate membership.

August 2022: Filing period. Professional members can submit forms to file for office. This will create a customized campaign profile page.

September 1-15: Campaign for office. Use our forums to answer questions and promote your candidacy.

September 15-23: Voting online!

September 23: Winners announced.


Note – You can start preparing now by writing your candidate statement and collecting a list of your associations, social media links, etc. Basically, we’re looking for the kind of stuff you probably have on your LinkedIn profile. We recommend you compile your information in a Word or text document and then copy/paste into the application.


Lots more details . . . in the meeting!


Register now. And please share with your online network.


:-)

 

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Final Call - Attend ChannelCon - On Me!

MyTie and I are busy packing for ChannelCon - Join Us!


In case you haven't seen the vendor hall at ChannelCon . . . it's pretty amazing. The one defining factor is: It's a very egalitarian setup.

When booths are "open" to vendors, each vendor picks a table space on a first-come, first-served basis.

That means that any vendor has an equal spot at a table. All booths are the same size. So a billion-dollar company, a million-dollar company, and a $12 company all have the same size booth.

But you want to visit OUR booth because we have . . . badge enhancements. And MyTie. Add a few badge tags to your attendee nametag . . . and grab a selfie with MyTie.

Everyone should attend CompTIA's ChannelCon event. Seriously. If nothing else, register so you can get the content that's streamed and all the related materials.

Please use the code use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free.

ChannelCon is . . .

in Chicago, August 2-4

Click here: https://i.snoball.it/p/I9xl/t to register right now. 

Use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free. Just to be safe.

Please watch this video with blue sequins:


I am a member of CompTIA and have been on various councils and forums for years. THE event of the year is CompTIA's ChannelCon event.

This is literally one of those events where it seems like "everyone" is attending. So your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will explode with pictures of everyone you know at ChannelCon. 

Check out the whole agenda here: https://connect.comptia.org/channelcon/agenda.

MEET US at booth 517!

:-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Map Your Vendors to CMMC Processes

Here's an idea to consider: The next time you get a pitch from a vendor, ask this a simple question:

How does this product/service/solution map to CMMC processes and practices?


By now, I'm sure you've noticed that more and more government agencies are turning to NIST (The National Institute of Standards and Technology) and their Cybersecurity Framework for guidance on "best practices" for securing technology. See the official description of NIST's Cybersecurity Framework here:

https://www.nist.gov/cyberframework/upload/cybersecurity-framework-021214.pdf

The NIST SP-800-171 standard has been used by government (specifically military) contractors to demonstrate cybersecurity readiness. A few years ago, the Department of Defense created the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) to create standards of compliance so that organizations could demonstrate their "cyber hygiene" as measured against the NIST SP-800-171 standard.

In other words . . . instead of self-attesting that they are compliant, organizations can demonstrate to outsiders that they are compliant. And BOOM! an entire industry was born around compliance training, compliance auditing, and compliance testing.


What CMMC Should Mean to Managed Service Providers

Lots of people have jumped on the bandwagon of training and using CMMC in their businesses, and in offering services to their clients. That's great.

I would encourage you to take another step - and put a little pressure on your vendors. Simply ask the question: How does this product/service/solution map to CMMC processes and practices? See the graphic from the official NIST slide deck.

How do I map your amazing, AI-enhanced, fully buzzword-compliant widget to the capability domains defined in one or more of the five levels of CMMC compliance?


In fact, I recommend that you build a spreadsheet with each of the knowledge areas and define how each specific product or service helps you achieve compliance in that area. For example:


Access Control - [Vendor] [Product]

Incident Reponse - [Vendor] [Product]

Risk Management - [Vendor] [Product]

etc.


You need to look for two things on this spreadsheet: Gaps and Overlaps. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll have overlaps. These are areas addressed by more than one vendor/product. More importantly, look for the gaps that aren't addressed by any of the products or services you use.

After all that, you should get with your team and discuss whether you have the right mix. Is THIS the product you want to use to provide THAT compliance? If not, create a change plan. 

Also, make sure you go back to your vendors. Ask then how they map their products and services to CMMC compliance. Ask them if one of their products can fill your gaps. Remember, it might be as simple as using a feature you hadn't explored or didn't know about. Training from your vendors will help you choose the combination of products that you want to use going forward.

It's easy for vendors to throw up a slide deck and tell you how they plan to make the world safe from evil, amazing, AI-enhanced, fully buzzword-compliant attacks. But more and more, your company's success will be tied to your ability to demonstrate that you provide auditable compliance with a security framework that is truly growing to be a standard in the industry.

I would love to see every vendor add a slide that specifically maps their product or service to a specific piece of the CMMC security framework.

Feedback welcome.

- - - - -

A few sources:

:-)


Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Managing Your Service Board - 5-Week Course Starts July 5th

Managing Your Service Board


5 Consecutive Tuesdays

Starts: Jul 05, 2022

Ends: Aug 02, 2022

9am Pacific - 50 minutes

Handouts & Resources

Register Now - Only $299


Learn how to properly set up, develop core SOPs and adopt daily procedures that make your service board work better than ever.


Description

This course covers the most important pieces of making your PSA (Professional Services Administration) service board work effectively. Your PSA is the brain center of your entire operation.

Most Managed Service Providers don’t use their PSA systems efficiently. In fact, most of them only use 10-20% of the capabilities of their PSA. This costs you money because you have the tool to run everything in your business more effectively. But if you don’t put the right information into the tool, then you can’t get the reports you need to improve your business.

This course covers the daily operation of a managed service business – or any IT shop with a service board and one or more technicians who execute the service. It assumes you have a service board or PSA (Professional Services Administration) and a service manager.

Whether you sell “break fix” or flat fee services, a service board will take your company to the next level – if you use it right. In addition to covering setup and core standard operating procedures, we’ll get into the “nitty gritty” of running a service board and managing the service department.


Which PSA?

I used ConnectWise for four years in my business. Then I switched to Autotask and used that for five years. Eventually, I moved to SolarWinds and used that for more than five years.

On top of all that, I’ve worked closely with coaching client who have used all of these products. This course is intended to apply to all PSAs. I will point out areas where differences are most obvious.


You will learn:

  • How tickets should flow into, through, and off of the service board
  • How to set up the core components of a service board
  • Priorities
  • Statuses
  • Workflows
  • Time Estimates
  • The most important processes and procedures for making the board work effectively once it’s set up
  • Introducing new processes to you employees
  • Getting clients to understand the new processes
  • Time tracking the right way
  • The most important reports you need to run
  • Every Day
  • Every Week
  • Every Month
  • When it’s time for client renewals
  • Avoiding the biggest pitfalls with service board management
  • Building an Action Plan that works


Additional Topics Include:

  • Welcome to the Service Department
  • After Hours Work
  • On Call and Night Staff
  • Managing Internal Administrative Tasks
  • Assign Techs or Rotate Them?
  • Approved Tools
  • Employees in The Tech Department
  • Technician Daily Time Management — includes daily work flow
  • Time Tracking for Employees
  • The Tech on Call for The Day – Managing Daily Workflow
  • How to Maximize Billability of Technicians
  • Email Rules and Etiquette for the Consultant
  • Technician Supplies
  • Final Friday Training
  • Troubleshooting Guidelines
  • Troubleshooting and Repair Logs
  • Service Delivery Policies and Procedures
  • The First Client Visit
  • Guide to a Service Call
  • The Network Documentation Binder – NDB
  • Response Times – Guarantees and Delivery
  • Time Entry and Note Entry in Service Tickets
  • Information Sharing
  • Service Board Backlog Management
  • Daily Monitoring of Client Machines
  • Patch Management Philosophy and Procedures
  • Setting Up Alerts in Your PSA and RMM
  • New PC Checklists
  • Server Down Procedures
  • Third Party Tech Support – Documenting Calls
  • Third Party Tech Support – Rules of Engagement
  • Document Pouches
  • Service Focus: Monthly Maintenance
  • Why We Do Monthly Maintenance
  • Scheduling Monthly Maintenance and On-Site Visits
  • Checklist for Major Scheduled Maintenance
  • The Monthly Maintenance Checklist
  • Monthly Single Checklist
  • Outsourcing (some) of Your Monthly Maintenance
  • Backup Monitoring, Testing, and Management
  • Disaster Recovery – An Overview


Specialist Certification Pathways

Meets Certification Requirements for:

  • Management
  • Technician
  • Service Manager


Course Outline

Unit 1 Core Components / Building Blocks of a Great Service Board

Unit 2 Core Processes and Procedures for Success / Time Tracking the Right Way

Unit 3 Implementation and Daily Processes

Unit 4 A Day in the Life of the Service Desk / Policies that Drive Profitability

Unit 5 Build and Maintain a Well-Oiled Machine / Getting the Details Right


:-)


Monday, June 27, 2022

Everyone Should Attend ChannelCon - on Me!

OK. Good clean fun:

1) Everyone should attend CompTIA's ChannelCon event. Seriously. If nothing else, register so you can get the content that's streamed and all the related materials.

2) You should use the code use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free.

. . .


and 3) There's a bit of a friendly competition. But that doesn't mean I want to lose. So PLEASE use my code and register today.

See, I got this taunting email today. Sophos is ahead of us and Lifecycle Insights/OIT VOIP is right behind us. We want to be the clear winner by a mile.

But we need your help.


Answer This Simple Quiz

Q: Are you registered for ChannelCon in Chicago, August 2-4?

A1: If you said YES, great. Please drop by booth 517 for a hearty handshake and a slap on the back. And consider buying me a beer.

A2: Not Sure. That's okay. Click here: https://i.snoball.it/p/I9xl/t to register right now, use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free. Just to be safe.

A3: NO. Well, then you definitely need to register using our code! Click this link and follow the prompts: Attend ChannelCon FREE on Me!


Why?

I am a member of CompTIA and have been on various councils and forums for years. THE event of the year is CompTIA's ChannelCon event.

This is literally one of those events where it seems like "everyone" is attending. So your Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter will explode with pictures of everyone you know at ChannelCon. 

If you don't register, you will be very sad. Co-workers will find you sobbing at your desk. Nobody wants that. Please do yourself a favor and register today! 

On me. 

So SBT gets the credit. So we can beat Sophos and put some distance between us and Lifecycle Insights/OIT VOIP. 

And that means you can attend for free, compliments of Small Biz Thoughts!



Please Click Here to Register.

( https://i.snoball.it/p/I9xl/t )

And use the code CC22SmallBiz to register free.


ChannelCon 2022 is your chance to get back in the groove—an opportunity to reconnect and reinvigorate your business and your career. ChannelCon serves up a great playlist of information, tools, and networking opportunities. Join other tech innovators and thought leaders live for three days of learning, collaborating, and skill development.

Check out the whole agenda here: https://connect.comptia.org/channelcon/agenda.


Be a guest of Small Biz Thoughts

CompTIA ChannelCon 2022

August 2-4 in Chicago.

MEET US at booth 517!

Register now and I’ll see you at ChannelCon.

:-)

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

My MSP's Mission and Vision


My Mission/Vision Statements - 1995 to today.

We get mail . . . 

Marty asked me a simple question recently: What was my mission statement at KPEnterprises (my first managed service business)?


Like most small businesses, my first company was founded with no mission statement. I wanted to make money. I knew I could design and build networks. I knew I could learn new technologies. I knew I could consult on business and on strategy. So I started trading dollars for hours. Of course things evolved over time.

I founded KPE in 1995. But I'm a reader. So I gobbled up a few hundred business books, and thousands of hours of audio while driving all over town. And within a few years, I started actually working on my vision and mission. (Side note: The luckiest thing that ever happened to me in business is that someone recommended The Emyth Revisited to me when I first started my first business.)

All that started to come together at the end of 1999 and beginning of 2000. And that, coincidentally, is when I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. So, I was going through a very difficult and extremely painful personal journey while growing my business and getting my arms around a meaningful mission.


Definitions

Everyone has a slightly different take on these things. To me, a vision statement is literally what the future will look like. And the mission statement defines what it takes to make that vision come true. So the two are definitely related.

Here is the KPEnterprises discussion of Mission from our 2005 business plan. At this time, I was preparing to publish my first book for IT consultants. The company was growing nicely, and had six employees.


About the same time, I laid out my personal values, vision, and mission in the book Relax Focus Succeed. These are essentially unchanged today. The following is on the bulletin board next to my writing/reading desk in my study:

1.  My Values and Principles

  • Honesty, Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Good Personal Relationships
  • Healthy Life/Long Life
  • Helping Others

2.  My Vision

  • My vision is to inspire success through a balance of serving myself and serving others.
  • My motivations are:
    • Accomplish things
    • Relax
    • Heal
    • Help my family and other people
    • Grow personally and professionally
  • Notes on My Vision:
    • My vision is not to reach a point and then stop.  I want to be the kind of person who can simply continue doing what I enjoy forever.
    • I want to combine the “Me at work” with the “Me as father,” “Me as an individual,” “Me as a moral being,” etc.
    • I don’t want to be an atomistic, schizophrenic person.  I don’t want to behave one way in church and another at work.
    • I have goals for the various parts of my life, but they complement each other, they don’t fight each other.


Skip ahead a bit. In 2010, KPEnterprises had grown quite a bit. Great Little Book Publishing had been spun off as a separate company (now operating with the dba Small Biz Thoughts). I owned two companies with about fifteen employees operating out of the same office space. We had moved 100% of our clients to managed services and our largest fifteen clients to our cloud "five pack" offering. 

The 2010 KPEnterprises business plan had the following notes on the mission statement:



All of which, in case you're interested, brings us to the mission of Small Biz Thoughts.

My current company, Small Biz Thoughts, runs an online membership community and a training company dedicated to IT consultants. We are also a bit of a "media" company, publishing my books, blogs, podcasts, videos, and whatever else I can think of. And we provide some services to vendors in the space, primarily through advertising or speaking at events.

We have three W2 employees, including myself. We also have three 1099 contractors who work for us all the time. And, because it's the 21st Century, we have about five more contractors who work for us on an as-needed basis.

From our 2022 business plan:

Mission

Our Mission is simple and powerful: We help IT professionals to be more successful on the business side of their business.

Ultimately, Small Biz Thoughts seeks to change the SMB IT industry through information and thought leadership. These are accomplished through writing, speaking, education, and activism intended to redefine the industry to make it more honest, more competent, and more professional.

This mission is built on Karl Palachuk’s personal Values and Principles:

  • Honesty, Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Good Personal Relationships
  • Healthy Life/Long Life
  • Helping Others

And Karl’s personal motivations:

  • Accomplish things
  • Relax
  • Heal
  • Help my family and other people
  • Grow personally and professionally

And, just for completeness, here's the code of ethics in our business plan:

Code of Ethics

Small Biz Thoughts (Great Little Book, IT Service Provider University, SBT, SMB Community Podcast, etc.) is fundamentally a company designed around the concept of helping others to be successful. We literally exist to help as many people as possible to be successful. To that end, we have adopted the following Code of Ethics to drive our behavior and interactions inside and outside our company.

  • We are honest. In our work with clients, prospects, and strangers, we are committed to honesty at all levels. This drives several elements of our behavior.
  • We are competent. That means we know what we’re doing, or we don’t do it. It also means that we are constantly dedicated to learning new things. We are committed to never-ending education in a world that is always changing.
  • We only work with people we like. This includes employees, clients, vendors, distributors, advertisers, etc. We treat everyone with respect, both publicly and behind closed doors. In turn, we insist that the people we work with treat us and others with respect.
  • We are committed to work-life balance. Relax Focus Succeed. We certainly work hard, but we are committed to giving our employees time to relax, charge their batteries, and then come back to work with renewed creativity and productivity.
  • We are fair, professional, and compassionate. This is a bit like the “golden rule” of a service business. We treat everyone (employees, clients, vendors, etc.) as we would like to be treated. We remember every day that we are people working with people.
  • We are committed to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Of course we work hard not to discriminate. But beyond that, we are committed to making everyone feel welcome to show up as their whole selves. This approach welcomes a great variety of “different-ness” and creativity to work its way into our daily operations.

-- -- --

Some people doubt the sincerity of some or all of this. I honestly don't care. I believe that people who work with me and Small Biz Thoughts find that we "walk the talk." 

Yes, we want to make money. But our focus is on service, with the belief that money will follow. 

Starting way back in 2000, I have had people who belittle me and my companies from time to time for thinking small and not collecting piles of cash. I've had people dismiss me because I run a "lifestyle" business instead of a business focused on squeezing the last dollar out of every prospect.

But here's the important piece for me: I am happy.

When there's no intergalactic pandemic, I travel to five or six countries a year, on at least two or three continents. I live where I want, eat what I want, drink what I want. I have friends all over the world. Almost everything in my life is completely free of stress.

I jokingly tell people, "If you could be anybody, you'd want to be me." But it's true. After more than twenty-five years of running businesses the way I want to run them, I have built exactly the life I want.

Many of you have heard me say these words from the stage:

A small business exists to fulfill the dreams and desires of the owners.

My business fulfills my dreams. And therefore, I declare it a success.

-- -- -- 

What's YOUR mission?

:-)


Monday, June 13, 2022

Regulation Conversation: Lessons from the Transportation Industry

Can IT the consulting industry regulate themselves?


In the last post,  HERE, I talked about some lessons we can learn about industry regulation from automotive repair. In this post, I want to look at some lessons from transportation - specifically, taxi cabs and the Uber/Lyft/rideshare industry.

The history of Uber and Lyft (etc.) is really a tale of an industry that could NOT be regulated effectively, so the market stepped in with a harsh alternative. But, more importantly, it's also the tale of an industry that refused to regulate themselves.


For you young people out there, the taxi industry has been famous for over a hundred years for giving horrible service with a bad attitude. Until about a dozen years ago, taxi cabs were often poorly maintained, unclean, unsafe, smelly vehicles. They were better in smaller towns and much worse in the largest cities.

On top of that, taxi drivers ("cabbies") regularly ripped off their passengers. They didn't start the meter, and then over-charged riders. They outright refused to charge the rates posted. They would drive out-of-towners by long, circuitous routes to run up the bill. They pretended that their credit card machines were broken, so you had to pay cash, so the cabby could pretend the fare never happened and rip off their company while not paying the taxes on income.

In many cities, most famously New York, taxi licenses (medallions) are limited. So drivers or companies had to pay a lot of money for a license. But once they had a license, they were part of a monopoly service. They had very limited competition. 

Taxi prices are regulated pretty much everywhere. And there are lots of regulations. But drivers regularly ignore these regulations because they are essentially unenforceable. Prices are often limited by various schemes. For example, within a certain area, it's one price. If you drive to a different part of town, it's another price. But if drivers believe you're going a short distance, they simply refuse to pick you up.

Lots of rules and regulations did not improve service. You could virtually guarantee that you were going to get ripped off and have a bad experience when you got in a cab. The only protection you had was experience to arrange payment beforehand, agree on the price, remind them to start the meter, and let the cabby see you map the route on your phone. In other words, you had to be a savvy driver or get ripped off.

Then Uber came along, and Lyft inside the U.S. 

Rideshare increased the feeling of security. Instead of seeing a "license," the rider got to meet a driver with a name who was connected through an app. There was no haggling about price. You know the price before you request the ride. There's no rip-off because the payment takes place somewhere in the cloud. 

And as silly as it sounds today, the car is clean. It is maintained. It doesn't smell bad. And, on top of all that, you are greeted with bottled water, mints, friendly conversation, and a cell phone charger. The driver takes the route promised and you pay the price agreed upon. And everything you (and they) do is tracked in the app.

All of the problems with taxis were "fixed" by the market. Taxi services railed against rideshares with a lot of bogus arguments about quality and safety. But rideshare not only fixed the taxi experience, they also improved on it.

Here's the important part: The taxi industry could have fixed themselves, but they refused to.

Government regulation can be (often is) ineffective. Sometimes, industries have to fix themselves. When they don't, the result is both more regulation and a changing market that punishes the bad actors. 

Ultimately, very few industries fix themselves when things go wrong. Bad norms evolve over time. Sometimes, self-regulation helps, but it's very hard to do.

This is where the IT Consulting industry is today.

We have a lot of bad actors. I follow a lot of the conversations on Reddit, Facebook, and various forums. I am appalled at the stories I read - but we all know they're true. People create abusive contracts that are probably unenforceable, but clients sign them and never consider going to an attorney. MSPs sign contracts that they don't deliver the services. They abuse licensing agreements. They blame software and hardware developers when the problem is their own incompetence. They abuse their employees and falsify records.

All those bad actors hurt the industry. They hurt you and all the good, competent consultants out there. 

But consider this: Most taxi drivers were honest before Uber. Most of them did not rip off their passenger. Most of them worked hard for decades because that medallion represented their retirement. In a monopoly market, the cost for a medallion might go up 400%. So drivers often got the equivalent of a mortgage to buy a medallion, knowing it would pay for their old age when they sold it. That market crashed when it became clear that Uber and rideshare are here to stay.

The reputation of the entire industry was hurt by the actions of the worst bad actors. And, ultimately, everyone suffered, even if they didn't contribute to the problem. 

Our industry is at a critical point. We cannot ignore it. The excesses of the worst actors hurt us all. I suspect we are more like the taxi industry than the automotive industry. Regulation will have minimal effectiveness. And, more importantly, WE can fix a lot of problems before the market fixes it for us.

Complacent industries are the ones most likely to be disrupted.

If an industry can regulate itself effectively, we won't find ourselves being regulated from the outside by government agencies that don't really understand what we do for a living. I hope the National Society of IT Service Providers will be the voice of our industry and help us to regulate ourselves.

Please check out the NSITSP at www.nsitsp.org. Join today. Be involved in the conversation. And help us address the major issues we face industry-wide.

Comments welcome.

:-)

[ Previous post mentioned is here: https://blog.smallbizthoughts.com/2022/06/regulation-conversation-lessons-from.html ]


Friday, June 10, 2022

Regulation Conversation: Lessons from the Auto Industry

The IT industry is being regulated. "Not being regulated" is no longer an option. Regulations come from many places, including state and federal agencies. Actual laws are a little ways down the road in most cases. But they're coming.

I thought it would be useful to look at some other industries and how they came to be regulated. One of the most obvious parallels is the automotive repair industry. You can actually look at some of the regulations and tell why they were implemented.

[Disclosure: I come from an auto repair family. My father and two of my uncles made a living as mechanics. My father and one uncle owned gas stations with repair facilities. My father had a side business rebuilding Volkswagens into custom dune buggies. I have brothers and cousins by the dozens who have been professional or amateur mechanics.]


If you engage a mechanic today, your experience generally goes like this:

  • They look at your car
  • They give you an estimate for the work
  • You go away and they start working on it
  • If something is more complicated or difficult than they thought it might be, they contact you and give you a revised estimate
    • You don't feel like you have a lot of options, so you say yes
  • They do the work
  • You pay the bill


As with many, many professions, knowledge plays a big role in the relationship. Even if you're mechanically inclined, the mechanic knows more than you. They have updated knowledge and lots of recent experience. So you pretty much have to believe them.

So honesty is another factor. You have to believe that you have a problem, that it's the problem they identify, and that the fix is appropriate to the problem. On top of all that, you need to believe they are competent. And, if they ever want to see you again, you have to believe that you were dealt with fairly.

This entire discussion is VERY analogous to the IT industry. In fact, the first legislation regulating MSPs in Louisiana was designed to address the IT version of the situation described above. Consultants (which the Secretary of State identifies as Managed Service Providers whether they are or not) were signing contracts with state agencies and then under-performing or not performing the work as described in the contract.

See information on the Louisiana law at https://www.sos.la.gov/BusinessServices/FileBusinessDocuments/ManagedServiceProviders/Pages/default.aspx


I said we could figure out why regulations were put in place. In the case of the automotive industry, there were obviously lots of mechanics who used their knowledge to engage customers, and then charge them more than they had agreed to. And, in many states (maybe all states), the mechanic can actually place a lien on your car. So if you don't pay them what you owe, they can have your car repossessed or, at a minimum, get their money when you sell the car some day.

In other words: Unscrupulous mechanics were making huge profits by cheating their customers. The laws or regulations that require an estimate and approval of additional charges has not eliminated the problem, but it has three positive effects. First, it has dramatically reduced the number of bad actors in the industry. Second, it has increased consumer awareness of the problem. And, third, it has created an opportunity for the best, most honest mechanics to promote themselves as super-competent and super-honest.

All of those things are good for the consumer. And they have raised the bar with regard to competence and honesty in the automotive repair industry. So, these requirements have been good for honest, competent mechanics as well.

I realize that many people want to treat discussions like this with quick judgments. But the world is a big, complicated place. No matter how much you hate regulation, it's coming. And sometimes, the smallest amount of regulation can make a huge difference - and help us avoid a lot more regulation.

If an industry can regulate itself effectively, we won't find ourselves being regulated from the outside by government agencies that don't really understand what we do for a living. I hope the National Society of IT Service Providers will be the voice of our industry and help us to regulate ourselves.

Please check out the NSITSP at www.nsitsp.org. Join today. Be involved in the conversation. And help us address the major issues we face industry-wide.

Comments welcome.

:-)


Thursday, June 09, 2022

D&H Adds HPE Greenlake and CTO Capabilities, Creating New Ways For MSPs to Benefit from Consumption-Based Cloud

News from our friends over at D&H . . .

D&H Adds HPE Greenlake and CTO Capabilities, Creating New Ways For MSPs to Benefit from Consumption-Based Cloud

— D&H Selects HPE GreenLake and Configure-to-Order (CTO) Offering to Give MSPs a Sophisticated, On-Premises or Cloud Model for IaaS 


HARRISBURG, PA – June 7, 2022 – D&H Distributing, a major provider of SMB, mid-market, and consumer technologies to the North American channel, announces it has enhanced its relationship with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), allowing D&H to deliver custom-configured systems based on a wide range of HPE’s software and equipment such as servers, storage, and networking hardware. HPE will factory-assemble solutions based on the end-user’s requirements and ship them to customers on behalf of D&H’s partners, allowing them faster scalability based on a greater variety of non-stockable products. The new Configure to Order (CTO) capability accommodates the evolving demands of end-users in an increasingly complex, modern workplace. 

This is in addition to D&H’s continued focus on the built-to-order (BTO) model as a just-in-time offering, optimized for the SMB market. D&H’s investments in its Modern Infrastructure team will provide additional resources to help partners select the right HPE solution for their needs.  

D&H is also now authorized to sell the innovative HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform, enabling partners to accelerate data-first modernization. The powerful HPE GreenLake solution provides more than 50 cloud services for business end-customers, and can run on-premises, at the edge, in a colocation facility, or in the public cloud. This enhancement to D&H’s portfolio allows the distributor to address a wider variety of cloud computing scenarios for partners via the cost-effective XaaS-based consumption model, whether their data requires on-premises, off-site, or hybrid cloud infrastructures. 

Expanding Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

“Our channel partners are working with businesses who are in various stages of digital transformation with unique data needs and dependencies. For example, certain companies might still benefit from keeping business applications or critical workloads on-site, while others could be more comfortable moving those to the cloud,” said Damon Kegerise, D&H’s director, modern infrastructure. “Yet the demand for IaaS and consumption-based delivery is growing, even at organizations that still require on-premises data. D&H’s MSPs can now offer the benefits of HPE’s advanced on-site cloud services to a greater scope of end-customers through a monthly subscription model, allowing them to shift their expenditures from the capital budget to a recurring consumption-based model, and to better accommodate end-to-end technology purchases.”

HPE GreenLake is currently transactional for D&H customers. As part of a forthcoming phase of this initiative, HPE GreenLake will be integrated into D&H’s Cloud Marketplace, allowing solution providers to build measurable solutions around this versatile platform, which will incorporate consumption invoicing and provisioning capabilities. 

“We want to make it easy for partners to build services and solutions around the HPE GreenLake platform as seamlessly as they’ve done with alternative foundational solutions like Microsoft Azure,” added Earl Greer, D&H’s sales director of modern infrastructure. “HPE GreenLake gives partners a complementary way to deliver cloud services, creating a true hybrid solution. Our Modern Solutions team was created to help resellers, VARs, and MSPs accommodate these scenarios, where a multitude of end-user variables need to be managed and accounted for. Partners don’t have to contend with all these conditions alone. They can leverage D&H’s team to create bespoke, end-to-end solutions for a range of circumstances, across an assortment of end-customers.”

“I’m excited about the opportunity to expand our portfolio of cloud offerings with D&H through our HPE GreenLake edge-to-cloud platform,” said George Hope, Worldwide Head of Partner Sales at HPE. “The expansion of our partnership with the HPE GreenLake platform will bring a modern cloud experience to our clients, their apps and their data - enabling them to accelerate their time to innovation, insights and outcomes.”

The expansion into HPE GreenLake with CTO capabilities falls under D&H’s Modern Infrastructure initiative, a sub-category of its new Modern Solutions Business Unit. The unit offers a consolidated team helping channel partners better meet the rapidly developing needs of the marketplace, supporting the deployment of hardware, software, services, financing, and more from end-to-end. D&H will explore the details of its Modern Solutions and Modern Infrastructure offerings, the HPE GreenLake platform and CTO offerings at its Mid-Atlantic Hershey THREAD partner event, scheduled for June 15, 2022, at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania. Partners can email [email protected] for more on this category, or visit www.dandh.com/thread for event information.

D&H solution providers can also visit dandh.com/modernsolutions or browse the distributor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, https://www.facebook.com/DandHDistributing/ and @dandh. Call 800-877-1200 to speak to an account representative. 


About D&H Distributing 

D&H Distributing supports resellers and MSP partners in the corporate, small-to-midsize business, consumer, education, and government markets with endpoints and advanced technologies, as well as differentiated services. D&H is ready to fill new market needs created by consolidation in the marketplace. Now heading into its 105th year, its vendors and partners can be confident in its ability to provide a wealth of enablement resources, multi-market expertise, credit options, and consultative services. D&H is agile in response to the needs of its VAR and MSP partners, demonstrating resilience through decades of industry mergers and market disruption, overcoming everything from wars and recessions to pandemics. 

The company works to expand the competencies of its partners in areas such as cloud services, ProAV, collaboration, UCC, mobility, esports, digital displays, smart home automation, video surveillance, digital imaging, and server networks across a range of markets. Its value proposition includes highly lauded training opportunities and partner engagement events, dedicated Solutions Specialists, certifications, professional marketing resources, and an expanding digital Cloud Marketplace. 

The distributor is headquartered in Harrisburg, PA, in the U.S. and Brampton, Ontario, in Canada with warehouses in Atlanta, GA; Chicago, IL; Fresno, CA; and Vancouver, BC, Canada. Call D&H at (800) 877-1200, visit www.dandh.com, or follow the distributor’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, https://www.facebook.com/DandHDistributing/ and @dandh

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